It’s always advisable to bring a mix of cash and credit cards, and to exchange enough petty cash in advance to cover incidentals, tips, and transportation. Memphis is moderately priced compared with larger U.S. cities such as New York and Atlanta, while Nashville grows closer in cost to larger cities daily. ATMs are prevalent. Debit cards are widely accepted.
Taxes -- The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear on price tags. In Nashville, combined state and local sales tax is 9.25%. This tax applies to goods as well as all recreation, entertainment, and amusements. However, in the case of services, the tax is often already included in the admission price or cost of a ticket. In both cities, room taxes plus sales tax will run you up to 15%, so it’s key to calculate that into the room total before you book. Sites such as Booking.com will include that price in searches, but not all sites do.
Tipping -- In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you). Tip the valet-parking attendant $2 every time you get your car, or up to $5 at the end of a trip. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, and tip valet-parking attendants $2 to $3 per vehicle. Tip cab drivers 15% of the fare.
Getting the Best Deal
There are a number of strategies to save money on hotel rooms. To cut costs:
- Book online. See box below.
- Dial direct. When booking a room in a chain hotel, you’ll often get a better deal from the hotel’s reservation desk than from the chain’s main number.
- Avoid excess charges and hidden costs. Read the fine print to find out if there’s a “resort fee” or “facilities fee.” This nefarious extra can add a good $21 a night onto the cost of the stay, though that won’t be immediately apparent when you’re searching for hotel rates. Ask about local taxes and service charges, which can increase the cost of a room by 15 percent or more.
- Enroll in “frequent guest” programs, which court repeat customers where you accumulate points or credits to earn free nights, airline miles, and the like. Some credit cards will offer similar deals.
- Buy a money-saving package deal. A travel package that combines your airfare and hotel stay may be the best bargain. In some cases, you’ll get airfare, accommodations, transportation, and extras for less than the hotel alone would have cost. Most airlines, the convention and visitors bureau, as well as the usual booking websites (Priceline, Expedia, etc.), offer good packages to Nashville.
Online Hotel Discounts
Before going online, it’s important that you know what kind of discount you’re seeking. Currently, there are three types of online reductions:
- Extreme discounts on sites where you bid for lodgings without knowing which hotel you’ll get. You’ll find these on such sites as Priceline and Hotwire, and they can be money-savers, particularly if you’re booking within a week of travel (that’s when the hotels resort to deep discounts to get beds filled). Hotel Tonight is another good option to help you find deals, especially within 7 days of traveling. As these companies use only major chains, you can rest assured that you won’t be put up in a dump. For more reassurance, visit the website Bidding Traveler. On it, actual travelers spill the beans about what they bid on Priceline.com and which hotels they got. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of many of the hotels that are offering these “secret” discounts.
- Discounts on chain hotel websites. In 2016, all of the major chains announced they’d be reserving special discounts for travelers who booked directly through the hotels’ websites (usually in the portion of the site reserved for loyalty members). They weren’t lying: These are always the lowest rates at the hotels in question, though discounts can range widely, from as little as $1 to as much as $50. Our advice: Search for a hotel that’s in your price range and ideal location (see below for where to do that) and then, if it is a chain property, book directly through the online loyalty portal.
- Use the right hotel search engine. They’re not all equal, as we at Frommers.com learned in 2017 after putting the top 20 sites to the test in 20 cities around the globe. We discovered that Booking.com listed the lowest rates for hotels in the city center, and in the under $200 range, 16 out of 20 times—the best record, by far, of all the sites we tested. And Booking.com includes all taxes and fees in its rates. For top-end properties, again in the city center only, both Priceline.com and HotelsCombined.com came up with the best rates.
- Last-minute discounts. Booking last minute can be a great savings strategy, as prices sometimes drop in the week before travel as hoteliers scramble to fill their rooms. But you won’t necessarily find the best savings through companies that claim to specialize in last-minute bookings. Instead, use the sites recommended in point 3 of this list.
It’s a lot of surfing, but your diligence can pay off.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.